Thursday, March 5, 2015

senior moments

I kind of wish the lacrosse game had been after the basketball game.  (Yes, I mean Syracuse - and yeah, I kinda like this deal where we get both of those games on the same weekend.)  I might've stuck around for the second half.  I guess the lax crew looked a lot better after halftime.  I wouldn't know, having had my fill after two quarters of only winning faceoffs if the ball first found its way to one corner of the field.

I don't need to learn that lesson for basketball, because Tony always figures it out.  I suppose one day maybe he won't, but, I mean, if you've been paying attention you know how he preaches, and even the worst fifteen minutes of offense in anyone's recollection isn't insurmountable if the defense is still defensing.

For all the criticism announcers take, sometimes they hit the target, and the crew on Monday night did just that when they said all it took to fix the putrid offense was an attitude adjustment.  Might be that Evan Nolte's three-pointer kicked off the run, but what made it a run was the decision by the ballhandlers to attack the zone.  It's amazing how things just fell into place after that.

And through it all, the defense.  The offense swung as violently between extremes as any team's offense ever did this season, and the defense was the defense, which makes it sort of fitting the Hoos wrapped up the regular-season title that way, because it was Tony's preaching brought to life in lurid fashion.

Myron Medcalf can keep on being snide.  (And he does, believe me.)  Anyone who isn't entertained by this team has no business watching college basketball.  Three games in a week, all of them vastly different from one another yet all of them with unmistakeable Tony Bennett fingerprints.  Tony just engineered two of the three double-ups in ACC history, in one season.  If the Hoos win in Louisville, Tony will be, as far as anyone can tell, the only ACC coach, probably the only coach in any conference, to improve his win total six years in a row.  These are mind-boggling feats of strength.  Are you not entertained?


-- I found myself caught in the trap that most writers fall into, to wit: pre-forming a narrative and hoping the facts turn out to fit it.  In this case I was planning on writing about how last week was revenge on a pair of teams that woke the dragon by daring to play the two closest games we've seen all season.  Wake certainly obliged.  VT basically did, too, but undermined the narrative by getting three of the stupid-luckiest rolls on three-pointers I've ever seen.  Tech did make the first half close, but try landing a shot like they did, just so, on the back of the iron.  Take away blind luck and the VT game is a plain-Jane blowout.

-- I'm almost always a huge fuddy-duddy about showboating and punking your opponents - I thought, for example, that Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt was 99% in the right in berating his player for clapping in someone's face.  (The only quibble is that I do think there's wisdom in the maxim "praise in public, criticize in private.")  But I also know the difference between having fun and being a dick, which is why I don't mind one bit that Darion Atkins got T'ed up.  Except that maybe that would've been a solid time to swallow the whistle and not call an I'm-in-charge-here foul.

-- Jim Boeheim's not a bad guy, as coaches go.  But Rob Vozenilek and Maleek Frazier checked in at the scorers' table to finish out the VT game.  One game later, the TV cameras panned to Syracuse's Carter Sanderson sitting at the end of the bench in the final seconds of a blowout while the announcers set up the replay of his portion of the senior day festivities.  That's the Tony Bennett Difference.

-- An appendectomy???  What's next for Justin Anderson, Lyme disease?  Sheesh.

-- Interesting bit of news on the football side, where UVA will bolster the tight end depth chart with former QB Brendan Marshall.  Makes sense, since he was being rapidly buried in the QB hierarchy and tight end is completely lacking in experience and depth.  It's still lacking in experience, but the more pieces you throw at the wall, the more likely one will stick.


Anonymous said...

Putting the benchwarmer seniors into the game on Senior Night -- late in the game in a blowout -- is such a mainstream practice that i wouldn't call it the Tony Bennett Difference. I'd call it the Jim Boeheim Difference for failing to do it. It was a bizarre decision (or perhaps oversight) to leave his guy on the bench. The online Syracuse fans were pretty vocal in their dissatisfaction over it, too.

You know if Perrantes ruptured his appendix in the first half of a game, he'd be back for the second half. "Meh, it's already ruptured now, may as well get back out there..."

Anonymous said...

Two questions for you Brendan.

First, how critical do you think a one seed in the tournament is? I'd love to see them get one again, obviously, but I'm thinking they could just as easily make a deep run as a two if they get the right match ups.

Second, assuming Anderson comes back healthy and ready to roll for the NCAAs, are we looking at a final four team? I could see them going on an unstoppable tear and just mowing teams down all the way to Indy, but I could also see them going ice cold on offense and losing to a middling seed that decides to just rain triples all night. I hate to admit that but it's my biggest fear this year. What say you?

Anonymous said...

The benefit of getting a 1-seed (rather than a 2-seed) usually manifests itself in the 2nd weekend. You'd rather play a 4 and a 2 than have to play a 3 and a 1. This year though, the 2-seeds are so close in quality to the 1-seeds that I'm not sure you see a huge benefit by facing a 2 rather than a 1 in that regional final game.

Anonymous said...

i noticed the same thing about Boeheim not putting the kid in. pretty crummy.

i'm guessing that coach K is willing to overlook Winslow's bitch moves on the court, seeing as he let Sulaimon hang around for a year.

i think getting a 2 seed would really piss our guys off. i'm not sure the field of 68 wants to see that. sounds like most talking heads think we are a 1 unless we drop an early one in the ACCT. but man, i want duke. eff those guys.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me the impact of losing Justin Anderson for such a really good team. If you look at who we have without him, the veteran guys at each of the 5 positions, the bench and the talent all around, I would have been very happy when the season began to compete for an ACC championship. I would have thought we'd have one of the best teams I'd ever seen at UVA. But you take the little extra that Anderson provides and it boosts the offensive efficiency ranking on Kenpom from 20s to top 5, and suddenly we're talking about being in the mix for a national championship. That's the difference, those 20 places in that one ranking. Maybe that would also be the difference between Brogdon's defense in place of Nolte's. Fascinating to see.